Game Music, Japanese, Reviews

The Legend Of Legacy Original Soundtrack (Review)

November 26, 2015 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook The Legend Of Legacy Original Soundtrack (Review)on Twitter
The Legend of Legacy original Soundtrack

The Legend of Legacy Original Soundtrack

The Legend of Legacy is one the recent JRPG offerings available on the Nintendo 3DS. Released in January 2015 in Japan and just last month in North America, it’s touted as being the spiritual successor to the SaGa series. The soundtrack was composed by Masashi Hamauzu, and fans of his music will be happy to hear that this soundtrack comes with all of his usual flair and style.

The soundtrack for The Legend of Legacy was released in March of this year, and spans two discs. The soundtrack as a whole is very representative of what you have probably come to expect from Masashi Hamauzu; rich, distinctive piano parts, lyrical violin melodies, all blended together with his unique electronic accompaniment. In fact, the very opening of the game features all of these characteristic elements very prominently. The main theme of the game opens with a quintessentially Hamauzu piano passage, before bringing in solo violin for the counter melody and segueing into a blend of piano, violin, and synth sounds. The opening works quite well; it starts with a bit of an air of mystery, and picks up in excitement to get the player ready to adventure and experience the game

The opening is pretty representative of what you are going to get from the soundtrack overall. Tracks like “Melody of Shadow” and “The Spirit Callers” offer pretty standard piano fare for Masashi Hamauzu, so those fond of his distinctive piano writing will definitely find some tracks to enjoy here.

There are a couple of more upbeat tracks that we don’t see from Hamauzu as often. The town music “Initium” is a great example.

This tracks features a light percussion accompaniment to go along with the piano and violin, which works quite well. The track has a nice, bright feel to it that is reminiscent of classic JRPG town music, but some of the details of the synth accompaniment give it a new, modern edge. It actually almost feels like something that you could dance to, which is not something I typically think of when thinking of Masashi Hamauzu, so this shows off a side of his writing that I hope we get to see more of in the future.

The battle track, “Fight Against The Unknown”, is another noteworthy track where I can hear him draw from classic RPG styles but bring his own flair as well.

The melody and accompaniment in the main part of this track are actually somewhat light and airy, and pretty reminiscent of traditional JRPG battle themes, but his use electronic bass and percussion gives the track some energy while also giving it a bit of a heavier feel. Later, he mixes things up with some interesting syncopation; the thick chords right befor the repeat follow the typical 3+3+3+3+2+2 beat pattern before repeating with an emphasis on the offbeats.

The soundtrack features some good examples of his more ambient and minimalist writing as well. ”Dungeon in the Desert” is one of his more minimal tracks that relies pretty heavily on a repetitive synth accompaniment, but also features some melodic material in the piano and synthesizer. “City of Solitude” has a nice blend of minimalism with a light melody and rich harmonies, and “A Great Calling” features Mina on her layered vocals, similar to some of her other work for Final Fantasy XIII and as part of Imeruat.

The soundtrack is mostly limited to this sort of material that feels very familiar, but there was one track in particular that stood out to me: “Deserted Village”. Here, Masashi Hamauzu has written a track entirely for solo guitar. This is really noteworthy for several reasons: Masashi Hamauzu seldom writes for any solo instrument other than piano, and even beyond that his works rarely feature guitar.

The track is placed right around the middle of the album, and provides some really nice variety with its simpler harmonies amidst the comparatively rich textures. It is interesting to hear Hamauzu write for guitar, since it is so different from piano, his preferred instrument. Though it doesn’t feature as many of his extended, rich harmonies simply due to the limitations of a guitar, his unique choice of harmonies still comes through pretty clearly. This is another aspect of his writing that I hope we see more of in the future.

I’ve spent some time giving an overview of the music, but I do also want to spend some time discussing how it fits in with the game. While I enjoy Masashi Hamauzu’s style and was excited to sample this soundtrack, there are ways in which it does not seem to fit in all that well with the setting of the game. To my ear, his choice of synth accompaniments, and even sometimes his harmonic choices, are often at odds with the fantasy setting of the game and its fairly lighthearted animation style. Some of the tracks that are more ambient, like “The Shipwood”, work fairly nicely, but others just don’t seem to blend into the style of the game well, like “Bottomless Pit”. The world map music “Avalon” in particular does not seem to fit the setting very well.

The tracks that are a little bit more active tend to have a tougher time blending in well. While I enjoy “Initium”, and think that the track itself is quite good for town music, some of the specific accompaniment figures in his chosen synth sounds just didn’t seem to blend in all that well with the setting. “Hidden Forest” is another example of a track that I believe is strong musically, but just doesn’t quite blend into the setting. With these tracks, I believe the problem lies more with the choices of instrumentation than with the actual writing.

Lastly, some areas in the game, like the Roaring Valley and Bogsaur Marsh, don’t even have ambient music, which is a disappointing omission. The soundtrack as a whole is not all that long, so it could have potentially benefit from a couple of extra tracks for these areas.

If you are a fan of Masashi Hamauzu’s previous works, you will find a lot of what there is to love about him in The Legend of Legacy’s soundtrack, so in that case I would definitely recommend giving it a listen. However, there is little here that is particularly new or noteworthy, so if your interest is more casual you may be better off giving it a pass.

You can purchase the soundtrack of The Legend of Legacy through Masashi Hamauzu’s record label, Monomusik, on their website here.

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